Democracy

Brexit Is Hell…

Over time, public conceptions of hell have migrated from the realm of religious belief to that of literature and political aphorism. Harold James Project Syndicate And nowhere is the idea of eternal damnation as punishment for one’s own choices more appropriate than in the case of the United Kingdom as it hurdles toward the Brexit abyss. PRINCETON – European Council President Donald Tusk recently sparked controversy by saying there is a “special place in hell” for those who advocated Brexit ... Read More »

Tough times for shining light into dark corners

These are difficult times for people who want to shine light into dark corners, hold the powerful to account and, more specifically, exercise freedom of journalistic expression. James Chessell The Canberra Times The threats to an independent press are most acute in places such as China, Turkey and Egypt where journalists are now detained (and worse) in record numbers for doing their jobs. From Syria to Myanmar to Venezuela despotic administrations trot out the term “fake news” to dismiss legitimate ... Read More »

Renewing Europe

European citizens need to learn from the Brexit impasse and apply those lessons ahead of and after the European Parliament election in May. Emmanuel Macron Project Syndicate That means embracing reforms that advance the three goals that lie at the heart of the European project. PARIS – Never, since World War II, has Europe been as essential. Yet never has Europe been in so much danger. Brexit stands as the symbol of that. It symbolises the crisis of Europe, which ... Read More »

The Killing Times: the massacres of Aboriginal people Australia must confront

Special report: Shootings, poisonings and children driven off cliffs – this is a record of state-sanctioned slaughter • A massacre map of Australia’s frontier wars – interactive Lorena Allam and Nick Evershed The Guardian The truth of Australia’s history has long been hiding in plain sight. The stories of “the killing times” are the ones we have heard in secret, or told in hushed tones. They are not the stories that appear in our history books yet they refuse to go away. ... Read More »

The most dangerous thing about democracy

It fascinates me that, while you and I live snarled in the barbs and infuriations of petty bureaucracy – arbitrary speeding fines, council refusals of backyard follies, strata-bodies’ vengeance feuds, the brute humiliations of the Centrelink crawl and the perpetual requirement to choose medical insurers, super funds and… The Sydney Morning Herald Threats of criminal action? Oh I’m so dreadfully sorry, let me resign forthwith (on my multi-million pension). Tax? Pah. Tax is what the poor pay and the rich ... Read More »

The Irish Times view on the legal system: access denied

A great many people cannot afford to go to court because of the exorbitant amounts of money involved even for relatively straightforward cases. The Irish Times An effective legal system is a basic tenet of a functioning democracy, but no legal system can be effective unless every citizen has access to it. That points to a fundamental deficiency in our Republic. Long delays and outdated procedures contribute to the problem by deterring people from taking legal action, but the real ... Read More »

How do you kick EU ‘bastards’ out, asks Boris Johnson

The problem with the EU is ‘we don’t really know who is running it,’ said the former UK foreign secretary. Sarah Wheaton Politico It is not clear who runs the EU or how to “kick those particular bastards out,” said former U.K. Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. “My objection to the EU was not that it was run by foreigners,” Johnson, a Brexiteer who quit Prime Minister Theresa May’s government last year in protest at her Brexit strategy, told a New ... Read More »

John Dean: I Testified Against Nixon. Here’s My Advice for Michael Cohen.

My appearance before Congress helped take down a president. Will the same thing happen to Trump? By John W. Dean The New York Times There are several parallels between my testimony before Congress in 1973, about President Richard Nixon and his White House, and Michael Cohen’s testimony this week about President Trump and his business practices. Setting aside the differences regarding how we got there, we both found ourselves speaking before Congress, in multiple open and closed venues, about criminal ... Read More »

Society is still failing in its duty of care to children in detention

The findings of the inquiry into child sexual abuse in custodial institutions make distressing but necessary reading Editorial Independent ” The report of the inquiry into the sexual abuse of children in custody is yet another cause of frustration that so much of our political and media attention is focused solely on Brexit. There are so many things wrong with Britain today that are barely affected by whether we are in or out of the European Union. Some of the hardest problems ... Read More »

Australia slips out of global top 10 on adherence to rule of law

Australia has slipped backwards in global rankings on adherence to the rule of law, with global results appearing to indicate a creep towards authoritarianism. AAP – SBS Australia has dropped out of the top 10 in global rankings on adherence to the rule of law, with annual global results showing more countries declined than improved their performance. Australia now stands at 11th place out of 126 countries in the World Justice Project index. The score places Australia second out of ... Read More »

Gold and Grief in Venezuela’s Violent South

Across swathes of southern Venezuela, army units, Colombian guerrillas and crime syndicates jostle for control over gold mines funnelling hard currency to President Nicolás Maduro’s government. ICG Outside powers should stop considering military intervention and instead help broker a peaceful transition in Venezuela, lest chaos ensue. What’s new? Venezuelan crime syndicates and Colombian guerrilla groups are creating new threats across southern Venezuela as they compete for control of the region’s valuable mineral resources. Tensions and violence have spiked in recent ... Read More »

Venezuela: An Empty Shell Named Juan Guaido

Venezuela’s next problem, besides a crashed economy and an authoritarian regime, may be an opposition president incapable of running the country. Sergio Ocampo Madrid EL ESPECTADOR 2019-02-27 English edition • WORLDCRUNCH -OpEd- BOGOTÁ — Obviously, I want Maduro to fall. Obviously, I’m counting the minutes to the end of Venezuela’s nightmare, so we may start to rebuild it after a 20-year experiment that has both destroyed the country and largely killed the dream that many of us in Colombia share: ... Read More »

‘He Is a Racist, He Is a Con Man, and He Is a Cheat’

Nixon was bad, but nothing compared to Michael Cohen’s portrayal of “gangster” Trump. By Nicholas Kristof The New York Times Opinion Columnist Feb. 27, 2019 More than 45 years ago, as a 14-year-old farm kid in Oregon, I watched on a flickering black-and-white television as Richard Nixon’s former White House counsel, John Dean, testified about presidential misconduct in the Watergate scandal — and the second-most-corrupt administration in American history began to crumble. Now, watching Michael Cohen testify before Congress, I sense ... Read More »

ATO whistleblower faces six life sentences, roughly the same as Ivan Milat

There’s something radically wrong with a society that allows mass murderer James Gargasoulas to be eligible for parole in 46 years, locks up serial killer Ivan Milat for 181 years and then has an Australian Taxation Office employee facing 161 years in prison for blowing the whistle on a… Adele Ferguson The Sydney Morning Herald Richard Boyle has been charged with 66 offences including telephone tapping and recording of conversations without the consent of all parties and making a record ... Read More »

Supreme Court will look at whether a cross is promotion of religion or war memorial

The Supreme Court justices, long divided on the role of religion, are set to decide whether a 40-foot Latin cross sitting at a busy intersection in Maryland is an unconstitutional official endorsement of Christianity or a… David G. Savage Los Angeles Times It will be the first major religion case for Justice Brett M. Kavanaugh, and the outcome could signal whether the court’s five conservatives are prepared to give small towns, counties and… At issue is the 1st Amendment’s ban ... Read More »

Bashir Moves Sudan to Dangerous New Ground

Faced with the most serious protests against his 30-year rule, President Omar al-Bashir’s declaration of a state of emergency will not save his bankrupt, unpopular regime. ICG Instead, security forces must halt worsening violence, Bashir should step down and all sides should work on a broadly inclusive transitional government. President Omar al-Bashir’s address to the nation on the evening of 22 February attempted to defuse the crisis that has engulfed his administration in the longest wave of protests in decades. ... Read More »